The rise and impending downfall of Wordle

Millions of fans love the game, but the soon won’t have access to it


Photo courtesy of (Breanna Carr)

Wordle is one of the most popular daily puzzles, and is currently available in dozens of languages

Kelly Ashton, Arts & Culture Writer

The unexpected popularity of the online game Wordle has shocked millions of online users.

Originally starting with just 90 players, the game’s popularity rate has rapidly increased. Now with up to 300,000 active users per day, the game is gaining the attention it deserves.

This attention, however, may cause issues for daily users in the future. Here is how Wordle became so popular, and why it is not a good thing.

Picture this scene: in early 2021, Josh Wardle, who had previously worked on the word puzzle concept a decade earlier, decided to dust off his old project and create the game named after himself: Wordle. Just a few months later, in late October and early November, Wordle was released to the public. The brain-stimulating online game that took months to prepare had a whopping number of…90 users per day. Yet little did Wardle know that in just three months his game would be the most popular online game played worldwide. 

The greatest appeal that Wordle has is the easy game-play and accessibility. Wordle serves as a perfect game for age groups ranging from middle school to retirement homes. The main factor, however, that drew in so many new users is the factor of social media. If Wordle had been a game found in local newspapers 30 years ago, it would not have half the attention it has now. Social media users spread the word about the new game by sharing great reviews, debating the Wordle of the day, and most importantly sharing their scores on their media platforms. The positive coverage of the game began to spread across lInstagram, TikTok, Snapchat and soon reached its way to family dinner tables.

Between late October 2021 and early February 2022 over two million people joined the Wordle wagon, and 300,000 of those people play it daily. The game made its way to a variety of news channels and (to the dismay of many), the New York Times.

In January 2022, Times bought the game Wordle from Wardle for millions of dollars. Although some cannot tell the difference between Wardle’s original game and the Times’ version of the game, many fans express their disappointment, mostly at the notion that it will soon not be free to all users.

Sophomore Ava Paolone expressed her thoughts on the purchase.

“It makes me very upset as a person who enjoys playing Wordle,” she said. “This makes the New York Times seem greedy.”

The Times stated that although the game is free to all users for now, in just a few months only those who have a subscription to their company will be allowed to play the game. The Times’ decision defeats the original draw of the game: the fact that it is accessible to a variety of groups of people, the rich, poor, young and old. Now, the group has been narrowed down to Wordle players who additionally have a subscription to the New York Times. 

The Times’ purchase upset Wordle users across the world, yet Wardle’s decision cannot be changed anymore. So as popular as the game is now, the new changes may unfortunately mean the downfall of the favorable game.